Real Life Wrenching: Lacing Spokes and Truing a Wheel

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Lankford
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Spokes and a hub, ready to be laced to the rim.

I am not a mechanic, nor am I a naturally technical person. Rebuilding a motorcycle from a pile of parts isn’t something I ever thought I’d do, but despite my lack of experience and mechanical know-how I have committed myself to the job. My hope is that my journey will inspire other newbies to take it on. For you experienced gear-heads out there who have done this many times, maybe this column will spark memories of your first build or even encourage you to take on something else you wouldn’t have otherwise thought you could do.  Or, in this case, perhaps try lacing your own spokes if you haven’t before.

Apparently, lacing and truing spokes is a right of passage in the wrenching world.  Despite the furrowed brows I get when I tell people I’m doing this myself, I’m finding it more a matter of patience than know-how.  I have two old wheels to copy the pattern from, but a little logic goes a long way in figuring out what the pattern should be. My Bonneville has cone-shaped hubs, so the short spokes attach the wider side of the hub to the rim, with the longer ones on the side with the smaller circumferance. For each length there are two types with either a more obtuse end or shorter, flatter end opposite the thread. The greater angle is for those spokes that need to wrap over the hub and bottom spoke layer to reach the rim effectively. You’re most likely to have an old wheel to rebuild, so if anything, take pictures of the pattern before dissambly and simply recreate it. This step is surprisingly easy to do, but for more technical details on the process, check out this great how-to on lacing and truing wheels.

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